Dampness continues to be the pathogen on everyone’s mind this year, as an ever-increasing body of research shows the links between Covid-19 severity and Autoimmunity, Blood sugar problems and obesity.
When treating these conditions with TCM the first thing we always regulate is the body’s water metabolism. Are you feeling swollen, fatigued, or lethargic? When you change to a healthier diet do you initially lose water weight? You’re not alone.
The human body’s methods of regulating its fluids are robust and many, but they’re vulnerable to damage. And while we often feel like we are “dehydrated” and have to force ourselves to drink water, what’s really going on is that we are water logged, and our natural feeling of thirst is suppressed.
Would you rather drink from a clear alpine spring, or a tepid muddy pond with an algae bloom? Just as in nature, water in our bodies is cleanest when it is moving. When it sits still it is more prone to the growth of infectious pathogens, and it harbors toxicity from the environment such as microplastics, pesticides and heavy metals.
All of this is treated in TCM as pathological Dampness. And when we’re fighting a Damp Plague like Covid-19, pre-existing dampness can put our lives at risk.
Just as in nature, seasonal changes affect the ways our bodies hold, move, and release water. In Spring and Summer when the trees and plants are growing, blooming and fruiting, we tend to move more, sweat more, and move the circulation of gases, water and blood more into our muscles, skin and extremities. And in Autumn and Winter, we sit more, sleep more and rest; this is when gases, water and blood move back into our core.
As above, so below, in Traditional Chinese Medicine and High school biology.
What this means is that, if our bodies are not clean and our waters are dirty, it’s harder to eliminate that toxicity in the colder parts of the year. Yes, you can (and I would argue, you must) still move and sweat. But you can’t do it as much when it’s cold outside or you risk nasty things like new viruses moving in through your open pores.
So as we are now seeing the seasons change from Summer to Autumn, it is the Best time to eliminate dampness from your body. How to do it?
- Sweat! Get outside and exercise. Walking, running, cycling, Yoga, martial arts, and many other activities are safe to practice while socially distanced. Enjoy these waning days of Summer and move your body. I’ve become a big fan of my friend and colleague Fabrice Piche’s Qigong YouTube channel.
- Fix your digestion. If you’re prone to a sluggish gut, up your intake of fresh, gently cooked vegetables; especially seasonal Zucchini and squash. Spices such as ginger and Sichuan Peppercorns can boost gut motility and fight overgrowth of Candida-type yeasts that contribute to Dampness. Regular, complete bowel movements are one of the best ways to clean the body’s water metabolism. If you’re prone to bloating or post-meal fatigue, consider digestive aids such as Microgard Plus and abdominal self-massage.
- Consider cutting your carbs. While we think of salty food as being the thing that makes us retain water (and it can definitely do this), we often forget that sugars do it just as well. Most of you know my story with obesity and blood sugar, and that I usually eat Ketogenic. I’ve been making exceptions for fresh Summer fruit, but now that blackberry season has passed I’ll go back to it for the Yin time of the year. You don’t always have to go that far, but reducing or eliminating grains and refined sugars can go a long way towards getting your body to shed extra water weight and feeling light and agile as the year cools off.
Sichuan Peppercorns add spice to your life and flavor to your meals! You can make them into a delicious condiment easily at home.
Botanical medicine can supercharge all of these lifestyle tweaks, and we’ve made the most commonly used formulas available through the clinic’s Online Store. Here’s a quick guide:
- Blood Sugars elevated: consider Aquada and Microgard Plus with your meals, in addition to suggestions above.
- Working in close proximity with others, having a difficult time maintaining social distance, or vulnerable to infection: Huo Xiang Zheng Qi tea is the most commonly used formula in China for prevention of the “Damp Plague.”
- Waking up foggy-headed (does your spouse tell you that you snore?) with a low morning appetite: Warm Hearth tea and a Tibetan Foot Soak is an awesome start to your day.
- Tending to sluggish bowels and constipation? A few sachets of Peak tea can usually get you moving.
I know there are a lot of options and combining these remedies or making custom blends can seem daunting. You can always schedule an appointment with me to get clear on your best path to health.
I hope you are enjoying Late Summer and staying well. As always, feel free to reply with your questions and feedback!
To your health,
Brehan and the Crawford Wellness crew